On October 18, 2012, the State of New York used its legislative muscle to force the New York Racing Association (NYRA) into a franchise reorganization. This government takeover was done legislatively in an attempt to remedy certain financial difficulties that NYRA wen through, including a bankruptcy. In addition to having a franchise oversight committee and the placement of 8 seats on the Board of Directors, the Governor has control over racing by appointing the head of NYRA. This is despite the fact that he refuses to set foot on the grounds. Nonetheless Cuomo made sure that even though the Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga realty were deeded to the New York Racing Association when it was a not for profit; that said land was somehow owned by the state.
Cuomo did appoint his board members. He did make sure that the VLT revenue was received. That said, he also failed to appear at the State run facilities during the entire time New York has run NYRA. The fact remains, this state run agency is not a priority to the Governor, well actually the continued existence and potential privatization is simply not going to happen, because if it does, the Governor loses control. However the legislation for state takeover required that NYRA submit a plan for privatization in 2015. That at least is what they were supposed to do . .. however as the plans became solidified and were going to be submitted, Governor Cuomo extended the govnernmental control for another year. Why? In order to continue to keep NYRA from being able to manage its business. In order to keep NYRA from running like a business and less like a governmental agency. Cuomo has already has said that the property where Aqueduct Racetrack sits would be much better used for low income housing, however he has never set foot on the property.
Recently, 13 legislators asked Cuomo to allow NYRA to reprivatize. This would allow the entity that best knows its business. It would keep government out of the gaming business. The franchise board and Governor solely care about cost cutting. The fan experience is immaterial to them, otherwise they would not stand by and watch as the public is overcharged for food, drinks and seating. The best opportunity for a successful track is to let those who know the business of racing run it.
That being said, I wouldn’t trust that Cuomo will do what’s best for racing. Two generations of this family haven’t so why should Andrew start now?